Roger Federer can return to the top of the ATP rankings this week in Stuttgart but knows all too well the dangers lurking on grass as he comes back from his mid-season break.
The 36-year-old skipped the claycourt season, including the French Open, to concentrate on retaining his Wimbledon crown and kicks off his preparation on the German city’s slick lawns.
He will play German serve-and-volleyer Mischa Zverev in his first match today — a tricky test especially as he has not played a competitive match since a surprise loss to Australian youngster Thanasi Kokkinakis in March.
Last year, 20-time Grand Slam champion Federer lost his opener in Stuttgart to close friend Tommy Haas.
“Having lost here last year in the first round, for me, it resets the goals as well, and just take it one at a time and don’t think too far ahead,” Federer said.
“Not that I did that last year, but on grass, margins are very slim. It’s not so simple, especially when you haven’t played in three months.”
Federer will overhaul Rafael Nadal at the top of the rankings if he reaches the final on Sunday.
British number one Johanna Konta began her grass-court singles campaign with a straight-set win over Japan’s Kurumi Nara at the Nottingham Open.
Konta won 6-2 6-3 to reach the second round. British number two Heather Watson also moved into the second round with a 6-1 6-3 win against American Danielle Lao.
Katie Boulter went through with a 6-4 6-4 victory over Belgian Yanina Wickmayer, while Katie Swan lost 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 to Germany’s Mona Barthel.
In the men’s ATP Challenger event, Dan Evans beat Germany’s Dominick Koepfer 6-3 7-5 to reach the last-16.